City Picnic

July 13, 2015 · 2 comments


This post is sponsored by Noble Vines Wine.

There are things I don’t like about picnics: insects, damp ground, heat, paper plates, and the need to pack up and lug all that food and wine to a remote location –where there probably will be many of the other things I don’t like about picnics. But I love the food, and, in particular, the fact you can eat whenever you want because it’s all made ahead and served at room (or buggy outdoor area) temperature.

A couple of weeks ago I had invited some people over for dinner in the City on a Sunday evening –before I realized that we would be in Southampton until late Sunday afternoon and so I wouldn’t really have time to cook. Rather than resorting to take-out, I decided to pack a summer picnic in Southampton and serve it in the climate-controlled comforts of our Manhattan apartment.

Here’s the menu.

Appetizers:  Lobster Rolls with Jalapeño Lime Lobster Salad.


Lobster rolls are an East Coast summer classic, and I give mine a twist with a homemade jalapeño lime mayonnaise. (Once you learn to make homemade mayonnaise, you’ll never go back.) I think the bright fresh flavors of the citrus and chile complement the rich lobster meat beautifully.  The refreshing Noble Vines 242 Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with this appetizer.  It has a pleasant soft fruit flavor like green melon and a bright acidity that balances the richness of the lobster salad.

Main Course:  Spice Roasted Filet Mignon, Fingerling Potato Salad with Green Beans and Minty Pesto, and a classic Caprese Salad.


The room-temperature filet mignon is tender enough to cut with a fork, and it’s seasoned with a spice mixture that dances on the palate.  With this I’m serving a potato salad that takes full advantage of fresh summer herbs and vegetables:  fingerling potato salad with green beans and minty pesto.  Its light, fresh, herbal flavors are a good balance to the rich red meat.  And in summer, what’s better than simple sliced fresh tomatoes served Caprese-style with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and lots of extra-virgin olive oil?  The wine for this course is 1 Red Blend from Noble Vines, made from Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel grapes grown in family-owed, sustainably farmed vineyards in Monterey and Lodi, California.  It’s light enough for a warm evening, but the soft, dark fruit flavors taste great with the spices in the meat and lively fresh herbs of the potato salad.

Dessert:  Roasted Plum Tart

This rustic tart using fresh local prune plums is a delicious seasonal finish to our picnic.



Lobster Rolls with Jalapeño Lime Lobster Salad.  For the recipe and instructions, please click here.


Fingerling Potato Salad with Green Beans and Minty Pesto.  Please click here for the recipe and instructions.


Spice Roasted Filet Mignon. (Recipe follows.)



Filet mignon, about 1/3 pound (150g) per person (and you’ll want leftovers)

2  tablespoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long

About 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


2 tablespoons butter


1.  Toast the cumin seed in a skillet over medium heat until it is fragrant and begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

2.  Put all the spices in a spice or coffee grinder (clean by grinding uncooked rice afterward) and grind to a powder.

3.  Salt the meat well on all sides then coat with the spice mix, rubbing it in.

4.  Store, wrapped and refrigerated, for up to several days, or cook immediately.  Either way, let the meat rest unrefrigerated for 1-2 hours before cooking it.  (This will help it cook evenly and allow the spice flavors to penetrate the meat.)  Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).

5.  Warm about 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides.  Then transfer to the oven and roast until the internal temperature reads 135F (57C) on an instant-read thermometer.  (If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the meat to a roasting pan or baking sheet.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for about 20 minutes before serving warm or chilling for later.

Roasted Plum Tart.  Please click here for the recipe and instructions, substituting small plums for apricots.


DD Chop 2




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